COVID-19 WashU School of Medicine FAQ’s for all Personnel

Please remember that these guidelines are subject to change, as this situation is apt to rapidly change. Personnel includes faculty, staff, trainees, students and visitors who are engaged in our clinical, education and research missions (eg visiting scientists).

I am a student on the Medical Campus and I have questions about COVID-19. Who should I call?

  • Call Student Health 314-362-3523, they will be able to answer your questions.

I am a faculty, staff, trainee (other than a student), and I have questions about COVID-19. Who should I call?

  • Call the COVID Exposure/Illness Hotline at 314-362-5056; they will be able to answer your questions.

What are my responsibilities related to COVID-19 in the workplace?

Personnel are responsible for the following daily activities:

  • Complete the daily screening tool prior to reporting to work
  • Wear the appropriate face covering for respective situation/ensure that face covering is used in the correct manner- over nose and mouth.
  • Perform appropriate physical distancing- current recommendation is 6 feet minimum.
  • Escalate any concerns through the appropriate escalation channels. Start with your supervisor, but if that isn’t appropriate, continue up the reporting chain or report on one of the portals.
  • Report any potential exposures or symptoms (see below) and follow any instructions given. Follow all directives provided by Occupational/Student Health, as applicable
  • Follow all University policies governing workplace safety
  • Ensure that your correct contact information is in HRMS, so that Occupational Health can reach you

I may have been exposed to COVID-19 or I have some symptoms. Who should I call?

  • To report your exposure or symptoms, individuals should call:
    • Students with symptoms, possible exposure, or questions – call Student Health 314-362-3523
    • Employees with symptoms, possible exposure or questions – call the COVID-19 Exposure/Illness Hotline at 314-362-5056.
  • Follow the directions given by Occupational/Student HealthCall Center (test, return to campus, self-isolation, PPE, etc)

How will I know if I have been exposed to a COVID-19 infected person at WashU?

  • Information about you or a colleague who is ill or exposed is confidential and will not be shared widely.
  • If you are subject to a known or suspected workplace COVID-19 exposure, Occupational/Student Health and/or the Department of Public Health will contact you.
  • You may choose to share your personal information with colleagues if you wish, but information about others should not be shared.
  • Follow Occupational/Student Health instructions. If you have questions, contact Occupational/Student Health.

What are some safety measures that I can practice on campus?

  • Stay at least six feet apart: Adapt the workspace or implement shifts to facilitate physical distancing and allow personnel to remain at least six feet apart from one another. If needed, use tape or other means to increase clarity which will help you and others to maintain the physical distancing.
  • Don’t have face‐to‐face meetings: Continue conducting your meetings via telephone or web conference (Zoom or other platform) even if in the same common office setting, and discourage face-to-face meetings unless absolutely necessary.
  • Eat lunch and take breaks alone either in your office or outside while maintaining proper physical distance from others.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Yes. All personnel are required to wear cloth masks or appropriate PPE, dictated by their specific work environment, while on campus. Exceptions would be when alone in your individual, closed office space (with walls and a door) or while eating or drinking. If you have a medical condition that might preclude wearing a face covering, contact Occupational or Student Heath as appropriate.

I noticed that some of my coworkers/staff are not following all the safety precautions? What are some talking points to redirect behaviors?

  • “Do you have a mask to wear? If not, I can get one for you.”
  • “We all need to stay 6 feet away from each other. It is hard, but we can all do it. Sometimes we have to help each other remember if we forget.”
  • “When you are eating, remember to keep at least six feet apart since you won’t be wearing your masks.”

How do I clean my office or other space?

Remember to clean frequently used equipment and frequently touched surfaces (e.g., desks, tables, handles, computer keyboards, mouse, phones, printers).

If I have a positive COVID-19 test from outside of the university what do I do?

To better protect our workplace, personnel who test positive for COVID-19 at an outside facility are required to immediately self-report the positive test result to the WashU Occupational/Student Health and provide any documentation public health has provided.

If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do next to protect people around me?

An intial positive test (viral) for COVID-19 with symptoms or after an exposure likely means that you have coronavirus and you may spread the virus to other individuals. You need to reduce the risk of spreading the virus by limiting your movements through self-isolation. There are a series of actions you will need to take that are detailed at the CDC’s website, and include:

  • You should continue to stay at home except if you need to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home: keep yourself isolated to one room in your home, preferably with a bathroom that only you will be using for the duration of your self-isolation.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often: Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If you use hand sanitizer make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not share personal household items such as towels, bedding, pillows, eating and drinking utensils.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, countertops, etc., daily using a regular household detergent and water.
  • Monitor your symptoms: if you notice a worsening of symptoms such as worsening fever, increased cough, or shortness of breath, please notify Occupational/Student Health. If your symptoms become unmanageable or severe, please go to your nearest emergency department. You must call the emergency department before you go to let them know you have tested positive for COVID-19 so they can safely prepare for your arrival. If you must call an ambulance, please inform them of your COVID-19 results.
  • If you are admitted to the hospital, please contact Occupational/Student Health as soon as possible.

What does “contact tracing” mean? What will happen next?

Contact tracing is a cornerstone for public health used in order to break the transmission of infection. COVID-19 is a reportable illness to public health agencies, which has an obligation to review your activities and contacts in order to alert contacts of the possibility of infection.

The purpose of contact tracing is for early identification of other people who may have had a significant exposure to a COVID-19 infection and to provide instructions on how to closely monitor themselves for possible symptoms, and whether to self-isolate in order to prevent further spread of infection. The local Department of Public Health has the responsibility to identify all people (including those outside of WashU) who may have been in direct or close contact with a person who tested positive. WashU Occupational/Student Health communicates and co-ordinates with the Department of Public Health, and often participates in the internal contract tracing to determine the close contacts within the University community, by contacting all personnel with a positive COVID test (if completed through or reported to the WU Employee Call Center or Occupational/Student Health). Occupational/Student health will co-ordinate with the Department of Health to contact all WashU personnel that meet the criteria for an exposure.

If you have tested positive, you will receive a call from an Occupational/Student Health nurse. During this call you will likely be asked to recall all of your close contacts (see definition below) from 48 hours before your symptoms started. Occupational/Student Health will focus on your on campus activities, your contacts, as well as your use of face coverings and personal protective equipment while on campus. Depending on the date of your test and your on campus activities, you may be asked to identify your office or work area for cleaning.

Importantly, simply coming into brief contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 does not necessarily mean you have an exposure. Occupational/Student Health in conjunction with the Department of Health will determine your level of risk and appropriate next steps.

If it was determined that you met the criteria and definition of an exposure to a COVID-19 positive person on campus, you will receive a call from the Department of Public Health and/or Occupational/Student Health. You will need to follow the instructions provided.

Please know that the Occupational/Student Health take the confidentiality of your status very seriously and your information will only be shared when absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of COVID to others.

Will my manager/supervisor be told that I’m COVID-positive?

Your direct supervisor will be informed of your COVID-19 status in order to help identify possible contacts. Your manager/supervisor will need to know if you are not able to work, if your manager or others in your unit were exposed, and/or when you are cleared to return to campus.

What criteria is used to define someone as a close contact?

Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period (≥ 15 minutes) while not wearing appropriate mask or PPE OR having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (for example, being coughed on while neither person is wearing appropriate PPE). It is important to note that depending on the circumstance, even non-exposures by this definition may be evaluated and tested. This will be determined by the Department of Health and often implemented by Occupational/Student Health Sevices.